LAWRENCE, Kan. – Aaron Dodson gave Baylor the lead, and the bullpen hung onto it.
That formula added up to a series-opening win, as the Bears edged Kansas, 5-4, on Friday night at Hoglund Ballpark. The victory puts the Bears (26-16 overall, 7-9 in Big 12) just a win away from their second Big 12 series win, which would be their first on the road.
Baylor’s Nick Lewis (5-4) rebounded from a ragged outing against TCU last week with a far more complete effort against the Jayhawks (21-21, 8-8). The senior right-hander stayed ahead in the count and mixed his pitches effectively, walking only one batter in 5.1 innings.
Though Kansas made Baylor play chase by scoring in the bottom of the first, the Bears wasted no time in passing the Jayhawks. In the second inning, Matt Menard and Davis Wendzel both drew walks, and then the hot-hitting Dodson walloped his team-best seventh home run of the season. The three-run job sailed high over the batter’s-eye wall in dead center, giving Baylor a 3-1 lead.
The Bears added one more run in that inning when Josh Bissonette tripled down the right-field line, then scurried home on Richard Cunningham’s sacrifice fly.
The Bears extended their lead to 5-1 in the third on an RBI groundout from Kameron Esthay.
But Kansas wasn’t quite dead. The Jayhawks got back into the game with a three-run sixth inning, whacking three hits to chase Lewis from the game. Kansas also capitalized on a Baylor error in that inning. The Bears had a rough outing defensively on a windy night in Lawrence, committing four errors.
Kansas threatened to tie the game or take the lead off BU reliever Alex Phillips in the seventh. The Jayhawks loaded the bases on an error, a walk and a hit-by-pitch. But Phillips also struck out three that inning, including a swinging K of Tanner Gragg for the third out to slip out of the pickle.
Phillips bridged the gap to Kyle Hill and Troy Montemayor, who added a scoreless inning apiece. Montemayor struck out the final two batters of the game in the ninth, recording his ninth save. Kansas produced only two hits in the final 3.2 innings against Baylor’s bullpen.
Kansas starter Taylor Turski didn’t pitch badly, outside of the Dodson home run. Turski worked through the seventh inning, striking out five, but took the loss to drop to 2-4 on the year.
Menard and Bissonette each smacked two hits for the Bears, while Dodson went 1-for-4 with the three-run homer.
The teams will be back at it at 2 p.m. Saturday. Montana Parsons (3-2, 3.03) gets the starting nod for Baylor, while Kansas will send right-hander Jackson Goddard (4-2, 4.61) to the hill.